Premier League Transfer Talk

13With more reliable contacts in the sporting world than ever before Sport 4 Thought brings you the first in our new Transfer Talk updates by our very own TRANSFER GURU, giving an informed and in-depth look at the possible ins and outs surrounding football’s biggest clubs. Although the EPL season is far from over, today we bring you the latest on giants Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal’s transfer targets for the summer…

LIVERPOOL : Liverpool will look to compound on their excellent season by ensuring that their biggest advantage next year is stability. The fortress will not be rocked, and the club will not seek to make more than 2 or 3 signings this summer (with 5 excellent loanees to return and pad out the squad : Ilori, Wisdom, Suso, Borini & Ibe).

The first and highest priority will be a LEFT BACK. They face competition from several clubs, however, for Southampton’s LUKE SHAW : from Real Madrid, Chelsea, and a host of other clubs. Porto’s Alex Sandro, Roma’s Dodo, & Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno again all interest, but the list of suitors is long.

The other high profile area Liverpool will strength will be a WIDE FORWARD, following the collapse of the transfer of Dnipro winger, Yehven KONOPLYANKA. Roma’s ADEM LJAJIC has been watched, so too Verona loanee JUAN ITURBE. Iturbe however is well liked by Real Madrid and AS Roma (who are very close to securing his transfer). Liverpool also have long-standing interest in IKER MUNIAIN of Atletico Bilbao.

Brad Jones’ future is unclear, and Wigan’s scouse goalkeeper, Lee Nicholls, has been watched. A first option agreement with Derby County midfielder WILL HUGHES has been agreed since Christmas, but there is no news on when this move will be made permanent. Liverpool have spoken with Arsenal’s expiring Bacary Sagna, but aren’t yet willing to match the wages offered by Manchester City. Real Madrid have enquired about the availability of Philippe Coutinho, and been dismissed.

MANCHESTER CITY : The oil juggernaut will continue spending without any regard for FFP. Arsenal’s expiring Bacary Sagna has been made a contract offer, and it is difficult to see anyone else snaring him, now that Inter Milan have withdrawn from the race.

City had a £33.5m bid for Porto centre back Ezequiel Mangala rejected in January. £37.75m is the price tag, and City will return for the player. If this situation continues to frustrate them, Real Madrid’s Pepe and Liverpool’s Danny Agger have both been subject to bids from the Etihad this year, and are definitely on the shortlist.

Inter Milan have enquired about taking the unfancied Javi Garcia, as Man City also seek to compete with Manchester United for midfield general William Carvalho, of Sporting. Jack Rodwell is aware that he is also unfancied. A loan return to Everton in January was cancelled at the last minute, as FC Porto reneged on the sale of midfielder Fernando Reges.

CHELSEA : The £50m transfer of Atletico Madrid goal machine Diego Costa looks all but agreed in principle, as Chelsea look to freshen up their attacking options. As part of the deal, goalkeeping starlet Thibaut Courtois has extended his loan deal at Atletico by another year. Cech will continue in goal.

Fernando Torres has discussed a loan transfer to Inter Milan, who are as-yet unwilling to match his huge wages. Inter have also enquired about Jon Obi Mikel. Chelsea are also looking for more options in the final third : Southampton’s Adam Lallana & PSG’s Ezequiel Lavezzi are both at ‘reasonably advanced stages’.

Didier Drogba has been keeping his future options open : Jose Mourinho has discussed a staff role with him at Chelsea, but should he wish to extend his playing career, Juventus are also very interested in the Ivorian international.

ARSENAL : Wenger’s faith in Olivier Giroud & Yaya Sanogo seems questionable, as Arsenal will again seek to wrap up the transfer of Schalke wonderkid, Julian Draxler. Hopes of landing Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata also seem to have faded, as Arsenal are extremely close to the signature of Standard striker Batshuyi. Bayern striker Mandzukic did discuss options with both Arsenal & Chelsea, but it would appear it is more of a power-play with the Bavarian club, as the player does not feel as appreciated as he should be.

MANCHESTER UNITED : Huge exodus at Old Trafford as a large core of the squad seek to exit (Giggs, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra). The summer could prove to be a difficult one for David Moyes, as he persists with approaching established and settled household names (Benatia, Pogba, Vidal, Kroos, Hamsik). More realistic is ex-Chelsea defender, Alex, whose contract at PSG is expiring. He has held talks with United on two occasions now, and it seems it is between them and AC Milan for his signature.


Sport 4 Thought


USA: The Land Of The Freeland

As a 16-year old, Joel Freeland was a gangly English boy from Farnham, Surrey, who stacked shelves in Sainsbury’s and daydreamed about the special offers his future had in store. Unbeknown to him, less than a decade later, he would be signing a multi-million pound contract to play in the world’s most elite league of a sport he had never played.

Now, 25 years old and standing at 6ft 10in, Freeland is the new face of NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, having signed a 3 year, £6M contract in the summer, beginning the latest chapter in his truly remarkable story, which saw Portland defeat the star studded LA Lakers, (boasting the likes of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol), in the opening game of the season on Wednesday.

Freeland turned to basketball when urged to find a new hobby after breaking his leg playing football. Within a year, he represented England Under-18’s and was soon playing in Spain, home to the world’s second most prestigious basketball league.

In 2006, the youngster was drafted by Portland and became the highest ranked Brit in the history of the draft as the 30th overall pick, though the Blazers advised him to remain in Europe to develop his game and he swiftly transferred from Gran Canaria to one of Spain’s superior teams, Unicaja Malaga.

The London 2012 Olympics saw Freeland represent Great Britain, an experience he believes can only aid his development as a player. “It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I’m learning every day. The Olympic Games gave me a better insight into how it’s going to be.”

The rookie has settled quickly in Portland. “I love this city. It’s been great so far. I’m enjoying every minute of it.” Whilst others speculate about the dizzy heights he may reach, Freeland prevents his mind from travelling, keeping his feet firmly grounded. “I’ve been given the opportunity to play in the best league in the world and it’s something I’m going to take full advantage of.”

Portland’s new boy is under no illusions regarding the mountain he still has to climb. “It has been a little bit tough, because it’s a different game to what it is in Europe, but I knew it was going to take time. The speed of the game, the strength of the game, everything’s completely different, so that’s something I’m going to have to adjust to.”

Joel Freeland’s supermarket days feel like “a long time ago” and he will hope the only stacking up he does in the future will be of points and trophies. If this incredible fairytale goes to plan, the next aisle he trundles down may just be laid with red carpet.

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought